Car Accident Injuries & Compensatory Damages: A Basic Overview
If you've been injured in a Missouri car accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages, which are awarded in civil court "to indemnify a person for the particular loss, detriment, or injury suffered as a result of the unlawful conduct of another." Before agreeing to accept any settlement offer, you'll need to consider the full extent of your compensatory damages.
Your compensatory damages may include the following expenses:
• Medical costs. Medical costs include hospital bills, surgeries, doctor's visits, nursing care, medical equipment and prescription drugs.
• Rehabilitative costs. Rehabilitation costs include expenses connected to physical therapy, nursing home or rehabilitation hospital care, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other therapies or treatments required to help you rehabilitate from your injuries.
• Out of pocket personal expenses. If you spent any money as a result of your injuries such as for day care, taxis, bus fare, cleaning help, or other expenses that you had to pay because you were injured, these can be compensated.
• Lost income. If you had to miss work, reduce the number of hours you work, or stop working altogether, your lost wages can be compensated. In addition, you may be entitled to compensatory damages for lost income if you had to change jobs or careers as a result of your injuries.
• Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is considerably harder to measure than other kinds of damages. However, under certain circumstances, you can be compensated for pain, embarrassment, or physical suffering connected to your injuries, if your daily routine and normal activities have been impacted.
• Property damage. Any personal property that was damaged as a result of the traffic accident can also be compensable.
What can limit compensatory damages in a southeast Missouri personal injury case?
• Your percentage of fault. Compensation will be reduced if you were partially at fault for the traffic accident. Your damages will decrease based on your percentage of fault: for example, if you were 50% responsible for the crash, your award will be reduced by 50%.
• Previous injury or medical conditions. Only injuries sustained during the traffic accident are compensable.
• Pain and suffering are subjective and not easy to quantify. Compensation can be reduced if the pain or suffering is not easily identifiable.
• Previous law suits or prior claims can reduce the amount of your settlement.
Given the various factors than can affect a settlement award, there are several ways an experienced personal injury lawyer can help:
• Compensation is based on the individual case, but a lawyer can inform you of trends and award amounts for similar cases.
• Simple accidents return smaller rewards than cases involving intentional wrong doing or negligence. A car accident lawyer knows the difference, and can advise you about the best way to proceed.
• An attorney can advise you on the validity of a settlement offer, taking all of your current and future expenses into account.
• A car accident lawyer knows the likelihood of success at trial.
It's crucial to get legal advice before you accept any settlement offers. If you or a loved one has been injured in a traffic accident, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We represent accident victims in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Delta, Gordonville, and throughout southeastern Missouri. Call us toll-free at 1-888-777-AUTO, or visit our website.